Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday 30th July Trinity 7

“Panis Angelicus”  César Franck

“Panis Angelicus” (Bread of Heaven) is the penultimate strophe (stanza) of the hymn “Sacrum solemnis” written by St Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi.

This particular stanza has often been set to music separately from the rest of the hymn.  In 1872 César Franck set the stanza for Tenor voice, harp, cello and organ and incorporated it into his “Messe à trios voix” Op 12.  Today’s version was arranged by Henry Geehl.

César Franck (1822 – 1890) was born in Liège (now Belgium but in 1822 part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands).  He was a composer, pianist, organist and music teacher working in Paris during his adult life.

He gave his first concert in Liège in 1834 and studied privately in Paris from 1835.  He returned briefly to Belgium but after a disastrous reception to “Ruth”, an early oratorio, he went back to Paris.  He married and started his career as teacher and organist.  He gained a reputation for improvisation.

In 1850 he became organist at Sainte-Clotilde where he remained for the rest of his life. He became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872 and at the same time, he took French nationality, a prerequisite for his professorship. Once at the conservatoire, Franck wrote many pieces that have entered the classical repertoire.

Sunday 23rd July Trinity 6

Ave Verum Corpus W A Mozart (K618)

Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, true body) is a setting of the Latin Hymn, in D major.  It was written for Anton Stoll, a friend and church musician of St Stephen, Baden.

It was composed in 1791 whilst visiting his wife Constanze who was pregnant with their 6th child and staying at the spa Baden bei Wien.  It was composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.  Mozart's manuscript has only "Sotto voce" marked at the beginning with no other markings.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Mozart was a child prodigy competent on keyboard and violin.  He began composing at the age of five. He performed around Europe for royalty.  At the age of 17 he was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but was restless and travelled looking for a better position.  Whilst visiting Vienna he was dismissed from his position in Salzburg.  He remained in Vienna, where he gained fame but no financial security.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as the finest in symphonies, concertante, operatic, chamber and choral music.  He remains one of the best loved classical composers, whose work influenced many composers.  Joseph Haydn said of Mozart "Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."


Sunday, 16 July 2017

16th July Trinity 5

"Thou Visitest The Earth" from "Thou O God Art Praised in Sion" Dr Maurice Greene (1696 - 1755)

"Thou Visitest The Earth" is a setting of Psalm 65 for solo tenor or baritone and SATB chorus.  In our case today, the solo was taken by the altos.  It is commonly used as a Harvest anthem speaking of God's blessings on the earth.

Maurice Green was born in London, his father, Thomas Greene, was chaplain of the Chapel Royal and canon of Salisbury. Young Maurice began his studies under Jeremiah Clarke and Charles King at St Paul's Cathedral. In 1714 he gained his first musical post as organist at St Dunstan-in-the-West on Fleet Street. In 1717 he became organist at St Paul's Cathedral.

Greene was a founder member of the Castle Society, established in 1724. He also helped found the Academy of Ancient Music.

In 1730, Greene was admitted "Doctor in Musica" at Cambridge University and later was made a professor of music there.

In 1735, Greene was elected Master of the King's Music, the highest musical position in the land.

Originally a friend of Handel, Handel had a disagreement with another composer, Giovanni Bononcini, but when Greene continued his friendship with Bononcini, this upset Handel and a lifelong feud ensued.

Monday, 10 July 2017

9th July 2017 Trinity 4

"Lead me Lord" from "Praise the Lord, O my soul" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley

"Praise the Lord, O my Soul" was written in 1861 and contains the short anthem "Lead me Lord". It was composed when Wesley was organist at Winchester College and Cathedral. "Lead me Lord " is the final section of the work, and has a wondrous simplicity with 2 short solo parts which lend themselves beautifully for young choristers starting on solo work.

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810 - 1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley and Sarah Souter, and grandchild of Charles Wesley. He was a choirboy in the Chapel Royal and then embarked on a musical career.  He was appointed organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1832 and then married the Dean's sister.  He moved to Exeter Cathedral in 1835 and 1842, Leeds Parish Church, 1849 - Winchester Cathedral, 1865 - Gloucester Cathedral.  In 1839 he achieved his Bachelor of Music and Doctorate of Music from Oxford.  He became Professor of Organ in the Royal Academy of Music in 1850.

His work was almost exclusively for the Anglican church.  With Father Willis he is jointly credited with the invention of the concave and radiating pedal board for organ which has now become the standard internationally.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

2nd July 2017

"Never Weather Beaten Sail " music by Charles Wood, poem by Thomas Campion.

“Never Weather beaten Sail” uses the poem from the renaissance by Thomas Campion (1567- 1620) who wrote both poetry and music during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. The storm tossed boat and its tired sailors are a metaphor for the soul’s journey. As they seek for a harbour and anchor from the restless sea, so does our soul seek refuge and peace. Wood successfully transformed a renaissance poem into a song which does not have the over sentimental feel of much Victorian music.

Charles Wood (1866-1926) was born in Ireland. He was a treble chorister in the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. He received his early education in the cathedral choir school and also studied the organ under Robert Turle and Dr Thomas Marks. In 1883, he was one of the inaugural students of the Royal College of Music, studying composition under Charles Villiers Stanford and CHH Parry. After four years he continued his studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 1889 he was appointed as organ scholar in Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1994 and Director of Music and organist. Following the death of Stanford in 1924 Wood took over the role of Professor of Music in Cambridge.

He is remembered for his Anglican Church music.